Implementing A Way Forward

The work of implementing decisions arising from the Act2 Project will be the work of the whole Church. It will touch every aspect of our life together and should be oriented towards our vision of building more life-giving relationships with God, one another and the world. We should be constantly focussed on how these changes are in response to God’s call to enter more fully into mission. In particular, how we cultivate life-giving communities of discipleship and mission.

The implementation of the specific proposals would take a staged approach. The focus of the proposals is on the work to be undertaken over the coming triennium (2024 to 2027) There would be three broad streams of work. These would be:

Life Giving Communities of Faith and Discipleship

A Network for a Flourishing Theological Culture

Sharing our Life and our Common Wealth

A. Life-giving Communities of Discipleship and Mission

Much of the work in this area will be undertaken within Congregations, Church Councils, Presbyteries, Synods, agencies and schools around the country. The ongoing work of orienting our resources to support communities of discipleship and mission is a task all councils are responsible for over the coming triennium.

The focus of the Assembly’s implementation work is on amending and providing guidance on fit-for-purpose local governance arrangements. A small task group with dedicated staffing, in consultation with the Assembly Legal Reference Committee would undertake this work. The goal would be to have this work completed by November 2025 for implementation from 1 January 2026.

Alongside this is the work of considering changes to church membership with a view to bringing proposals to the 18th Assembly for constitutional and regulatory change. This could be undertaken by a small task group supported by a small amount of staffing.

B. A Network for a Flourishing Theological Culture

The focus of this work is on establishing the Commission for Theology, Formation and Leadership to pursue the vision and principles outlined in the proposals. The Commission membership would be drawn from across the life of the Church. It too would require dedicated staff with expertise in theological education and higher education.

Its initial establishment, including terms of reference and membership, should be in the second half of 2024, with a view to an initial two-to-three-year time horizon. By this point the shape of the National Network would have become clearer and ongoing staffing for the Network could be established.

Alongside this is work overseen by the ASC to establish an ongoing structure to resource the Assembly’s work on our theological culture. Areas of priority for this would initially include theological guidance in relation to ‘mission’, ‘evangelism’, ‘discipleship’ and ‘diaconal communities’.

C. Sharing Our Life and Our Common Wealth

This is the most substantial piece of work and would be focused on:

  • Seeking ways to more deeply connect across our councils so we can exercise healthy oversight, celebrate our identity and share our common wealth;
  • Assessing the feasibility of both a three-council model and a four-council model;
  • Developing a roadmap for implementation underpinned by a resourcing model;

The implementation is designed to occur over three stages, aligned to the trienniums of the 17th and 18th Assemblies.

  • Stage 1 Transition (July 2024-December 2024): This stage is focused on transitioning from the existing project approach towards the new Commission governance model supported by a small transition team.
  • Stage 2 Assess and Prepare (January 2025-June 2027): This stage is focused on progressing the Vision guided by the Principles through:
    • Conducting a feasibility assessment of both a three-council model and a four-council model. This will include further defining the two models to be tested.
    • Preparing a set of proposals for the 18th Assembly, including any Constitutional amendments required and an implementation roadmap underpinned by a resourcing model.
    • Identifying other ways to fulfill the Vision and Principles which can be achieved between the 17th and 18th Assembly irrespective of the final conciliar model adopted.
  • Stage 3 Decide and Approve (July 2027 onwards): This stage would include consideration and decision by the 18th Assembly about the final model. If required by the Constitution it would also include a stage of approval for other councils, such as approving constitutional amendments. This would then be followed by implementation in line with the roadmap agreed by the Assembly.

This entire process would be overseen by a Commission for Governance, Resourcing and Administration, with membership drawn from across the Assembly, Synods, Presbyteries, agencies and Congress. It would be supported by a staff team which included a team working across governance, resourcing, project management, change management, business analysis, communications and administration. There would also be resources to work collaboratively with the wider councils of the Church and/or contract specialist expertise in finance, legal, human resources and technology to support the feasibility assessment and design and test any implementation roadmap.

Below are outlined indicative core budgets for each of the workstreams based on the additional resources required for the first three years (2024-2027). It may be possible that some of this work can be done through entering arrangements with different parts of the Church to share resources and expertise.

A. Life-giving Communities of Discipleship and Mission$75,984$70,949$95,048$241,981
B. A Network for a Flourishing Theological Culture$241,046$425,334$779,063$1,445,443
C. Sharing Our Life and Our Common Wealth$842,177$1,329,341$1,157,029$3,328,547
Total for Financial Year$1,159,207$1,825,625$2,031,139$5,015,972
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Shaping the future Uniting Church.

We acknowledge the sovereign First Peoples of the lands and waters where we live and work across the country, and pay our respects to Elders past and present who have cared for these lands for millennia. We are committed to walking together seeking justice and reconciliation.